BY: JESSICA BEUKER
In the last few years, we’ve seen a rise in the popularity of non-traditional burial methods. Compost-based renewal systems where you become a part of the earth after death, ashes pressed into vinyl records, made into paintings or turned into jewelry, and biodegradable burial pods where you can literally come back as a tree.
Traditional burial methods account for more than 30 million feet of hardwood and 90,000 tons of steel for coffins in North America alone. Furthermore, the process of preservation emits toxic chemicals into our air and soil, and acres of land are cleared and used for traditional tombstones. These are just a few of the reasons why people have started to look towards alternative burial methods.
Now, one company plans to take it a step further, by turning entire cemeteries into stunning, protected forests. Better Place Forests aims to replace cold, grey tombstones with beautiful, living trees.
The idea came to Sandy Gibson, one of four entrepreneurs who started the company, after he visited his parents’ grave last year, according to Notable. He wanted a better resting place for the people he loves.
Better Place Forests is North America’s first sustainable, cremation-only forest cemetery. Ashes of the deceased will be buried underneath trees, with the trees serving as living “tombstones” for each person. As a result some of North America’s most beautiful natural spaces will be protected and preserved. The company’s first forest cemetery will be set in a protected part of Northern California’s coastal forests. Better Place Forests aims to open forests all over the United States within the next five years.
To be buried in the forest cemetery, a reservation must be made for a tree within the park. Each person’s tree and the land surrounding it will be private. Families can attend the spreading of the ashes and visit whenever they want. Reservations can be made for an individual, couple, or family – including pets. Proceeds from each sale will go towards creating a memorial trust for maintaining and protecting the forest forever.
The website’s mission states:
“Our mission is to give every person and every family the chance to help leave the world a little bit more beautiful than they found it. We do this by permanently protecting the land beneath a tree where you and your family can return to the earth. Together, we protect some of the most beautiful and iconic forests in the world.”